WomanSpirit 1 Dec 1983 Review by Helen Janes of Silverwolf authored by Laeretta Krenne-Genovene in Artemis Lesbian Periodical 1983

From https://voices.revealdigital.org/

WOMANSPIRIT, Volume 10, issue 38, Winter Solstice 1983

Series: Feminist
Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University
Publisher Name: WomanSpirit
Place of Publication: Wolf Creek, OR
Frequency: QUARTERLY
Media Type: Magazine
OCLC: 3113446

Volume 10
Issue 38
Date 1 December 1983 (actually states on page 3: copyright WomanSpirit: November 1983)
Media Type Magazine
Pages 68
Publisher Name WomanSpirit
Place of Publication Wolf Creek, OR
OCLC 3113446

WOMANSPIRIT, Vol 10, Issue 38, Winter Solstice 1983
SILVERWOLF, by Laeretta Krenne-Genovene
(bk rev) by Helen Janes, Win/83 p 17.

WomanSpirit 1 Dec 1983 Review by Helen Janes of Silverwolf authored by Laeretta Krenne-Genovene serialised in Artemis Lesbian Periodical beginning August 1983

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Anne Carson, writing on Amazon fiction in WomanSpirit # 36, Summer 1983, tells how, even in feminist fiction, the swordswoman is continually surrounded by the leers, sneers and sexual advances/assaults of men, that the rage-and-revenge fantasy is one of the commonest motifs, that, as she puts it, “the authors are still working out the rage of 1983.”

I would like to draw attention to an entirely different class of feminist Amazon fiction, best exemplified by Laeretta Krenne-Genovene’s Silverwolf, due to be published next year and currently being serialised in the British lesbian magazine Artemis.

Silverwolf is set in a matriarchal, goddess-worshipping society. In fact, ‘this society has a patriarchal (or semi-patriarchal) government, but this is merely the result of a palace revolution and has no popular support.. Even the soldiers of the patriarch, Lord Fear (a subtle pun here – Fear being the Celtic word for “man”), [1] have not internalized patriarchal attitudes.

In a sense it is the ultimate English feminist fantasy. The England of Robin Hood, where the outlaws are dashing Amazons, the loyal countryfolk support the matriarchy and the patriarchal tyrant gets his just deserts in the end.

But there is more to the novel than this. The story revolves around the clash between ancient matriarchal values and the incipient ideology of patriarchy; the spiritual changes that are taking place in the world and the reasons behind them. And it is closely woven with a sub-plot set in the modern world concerning the climax of the patriarchal /warmongering movement which in the main story is still in its pre-birth state–and presaging its imminent self-destruction.

The characters also are fascinating. Morven, the usurper-queen, beginning to regret her involvement with Lord Fear and his methods, but already involved too deeply to get out. The Amazons themselves: Thunder, the seven-foot powerhouse, who in one episode persuades a group of patriarchal soldiers to depart in peace by crushing one of their bronze helmets in her hand. Whirlwind, the teenage firebrand. Rahiyana, the cautious grey-haired leader who can transform herself into the magnificient Golden Archer.

The central character is actually three characters in one body. Firstly, Princess Mayanna, the legitimate heir to the throne, who has been killed by the usurpers; secondly, Petra Stone, a modern girl who is the reincarnation of Mayanna and is rescued from the “dark age” (the modern world) by the other Amazons to rejoin them. As a child of patriarchy she has a long process of learning to undergo. Her third personality is Silverwolf, who is “more than human.” She is In fact a yerthing (avatar) [2] of Nichai [3] (Mars – in this matriarchal culture a female deity).

Silverwolf is the key to the story. The unbalanced emphasis on the forces of Mars is the essence of the patriarchal deviation. They are, for example, beginning to develop the use of iron, the metal of Mars – this is seen not in modern patriarchal terms as a step forward in “human progress,” but as the ignorant and dangerous breaking of an ancient magical taboo. Held in balance, the forces of Mars are a vital and necessary part of the universal harmony, but unchecked they unleash a tide of’ disharmony and aggressiveness upon the world. Silverwolf is a living invocation to those forces. Thus her very existence hastens the onset of patriarchy. Yet, at the same time, it is only her power that can defeat the patriarchal tyrant

The abiding issues of war and peace, violence and non-violence, are thus treated in a sweeping mythological context. The author offers no easy answers, but I for one gained a whole new perspective on the subject.

From this it might seem that Silverwolf is a “philosophical” novel. In a sense it is, but it is also a rip-snorting adventure story that hardly slows down for a moment. The writing is incredibly rich and dense. The first chapter is about two pages long, yet it plunges right into the midst of the story and gives the reader one of the tensest few minutes of her reading career right up to its unexpected twist ending. From then on, I defy you to put it down.

Helen Janes
London, England


[1] Celtic word fear means man. In Gaeilge (Irish), Gaidhlig (Gaelic) and Gaelg (Manx) it means man, husband, person
[2] A madrian / Rhennish word defined as yerthing (coming-to-earth) in article: Symbolism: The Gates of Heaven by Anon in The Coming Age periodical, Issue 17, Winter 1980, published by Ordo Lux Madriana.
[3] Nichai
Greek goddess of victory Nike
chai or chey or chi or chavi means girl in Gypsy Romany (an oral language)


RELATED ARTICLE: Artemis Lesbian Periodical 1983-1987 the link from Silver Sisterhood to St. Bride’s School
issue 1, issue 2 and issue 3 (Nativity) all 1983

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